1

Which verb has been modified by adverb "directly" in the following sentence?

"Some governments even offer to help protect their critical infrastructure directly, by deploying sensors in the networks to...."

"offer", "help" or "protect"? Is it right that because of the second part of the sentence the adverb refers to "protect"?

Thank you

3

It's "protect".

If it were "offer", for example, then the sentence would be, "Some governments even offer directly to help protect etc."

So you mean that the word order in the sentence determines the modified element?

In that specific case, yes: the location of the adverb in the sentence clarifies which of the verbs it's modifying.

Is it wrong that we can adverbs anywhere in sentences?

Unfortunately English is my native language, I never studied English grammar as a subject, so I'm unable to identify a general rule.

Saying you could use it literally "anywhere" in sentences would a bit too liberal.

I'd suggest the best ways (perhaps the only correct ways) to use it would be as follows:

  1. To modify "offer":

    a. Some governments even offer directly to help protect etc.

    b. Some governments even directly offer to help protect etc.

  2. To modify "help":

    a. Some governments even offer to directly help protect etc.

    b. Some governments even offer to help directly to protect etc. (<-- note the added "to")

  3. To modify "protect":

    a. Some governments even offer to help protect their critical infrastructure directly

    b. Some governments even offer to help directly protect their critical infrastructure

Note the difference between 2b and 3b.

And 2a is modifying "help protect".

  • So you mean that the word order in the sentence determines the modified element? – vahid3561 Nov 10 '14 at 14:52
  • Is it wrong that we can use adverbs anywhere in sentences? – vahid3561 Nov 10 '14 at 14:54
  • Hmm, I am sure I did not see that :( – mplungjan Nov 10 '14 at 15:56
  • These things can be a lawyer's nightmare. Let's say someone guarantees in a contract to 'free-up resources, to deal with and rectify any malfunction within 24 hours'. Are they necessarily committed to having things up and running within 24 hours? – WS2 Nov 10 '14 at 16:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.